Sunday, August 05, 2007


The flood waters of regional England are receding so we decided to make use of the rare sunny weather and head out of town again. Claire had been here a few years ago and was keen to return, particularly to give some punting ago.

The town is literally named after the first bridge that crossed the River Cam. It is also the location of one of the worlds most prestigous universties. We found out that initially the sons of royalty and nobility were given degrees from Cambridge without having to sit exams - just had to show up at lectures. We were assured the process is much more rigourous these days. Our punting guide also informed us that no student of the university is permitted to have a paying job during term time, as it takes the focus off their studies. As a result it is predominantly a uni for the wealthy.

You may have picked up that we decided against self punting in favour of a guided trip. Given that it is summer, there was chaos on the river. A few of the novice punters had some directional problems, so there were a few collisions. Thankfully we stayed reasonably dry! Our guide did confess to a quick dip earlier in the day.

Apart from punting, the other reason to visit Cambridge is to see Kings College. This college was founded by King Henry VI and completed by King Henry VIII. It was literally used to house the kings that attended the prestigous Eton school. The building and grounds are very impressive and the chapel worth the visit. The major colleges all own land on each side of the river and thus a bridge as well. The land on the other bank is known as 'The Backs' and the colleges all charge an entry fee to enter it.

The college chapel is not quite as grand as the Canterbury Cathedral but just as intricately decorated. This chapel is dedicated to Mary with 25 windows depicting her life. All bar the last window were installed in the 16th century with the last one being placed during the 19th century.

Inside Kings College Chapel. The choir section must take up 1/3 of the building, so no wonder the Christmas Carols from Kings are shown on worldwide TV.

Kings College

Claire with the grounds of Kings College in the background.

One of the tall stories about Cambridge is the Mathematical Bridge. This is the only bridge not made from stone and joins Queens College to The Backs. Legend says that the designers of the bridge used Isaac Newton's laws of physics, as the brige was held together using merely friction, without the need for nuts or bolts. We were assured that it has subsequently been modernised using more modern building techniques.
The Mathematical bridge at Queens college.